Thursday, April 26, 2012

Diagnosing the Giants Issues Driving in Runners


Last nights game was vintage 2011 Giants offense, they get a bunch of guys on base (10 hits, 2 walks) but fail to cash those runners in (1 for 6 with RISP and 9 left on base). The starting pitching is good but a couple mistakes cost the team a game that very well could have been a win.

Last year the Giants had a triple slash line of .219/ .301/ .329 with runners in scoring position compared to .248/ .305/ .387 when no one was on. Many figured it would be bound to get better this year but so far that doesn't seem to be the case, in fact the gap has widened. This years triple slash is .194/ .282/ .312 with runners in scoring position compared to .288/ .333/ .419 with no one on.

So what gives here?

Well to try to figure this out it is important to take a look at who is getting the opportunities to drive the runners in. Luckily for us, baseball prospectus keeps these stats so we can take a look.

NAME
2nd + 3rd
2nd + 3rd Scored
2nd + 3rd %
wOBA
Brandon Crawford
27
5
19%
0.239
Melky Cabrera
26
5
19%
0.364
Pablo Sandoval
22
8
36%
0.395
Angel Pagan
21
2
10%
0.303
Aubrey Huff
18
3
17%
0.275
Buster Posey
17
1
6%
0.451
Nate Schierholtz
16
4
25%
0.398
Emmanuel Burriss
15
4
27%
0.280
Pitchers
15
1
7%
0.058
Hector Sanchez
13
5
38%
0.329
Brandon Belt
10
1
10%
0.324
Gregor Blanco
9
2
22%
0.304
Ryan Theriot
9
0
0%
0.154
Brett Pill
5
1
20%
0.463
Joaquin Arias
1
0
0%
0.000

Right off the bat you see that three of the top five guys with the most opportunities are guys with some of the lowest wOBA on the team. That right there is a recipe for struggling in run scoring positions.

Brandon Crawford who is on the team for his glove and not his bat leads the team in opportunities with runners in scoring position. While Crawford has done a respectable job getting 19 percent of the runners in scoring position in, it really isn't great when you take into account that 70 percent of his plate appearances have come with less than 2 outs. For comparison half of Melky Cabrera's at bats have come with 2 outs so he doesn't have as many chances to make an out but still get a runner in.

The big surprise in all of this is Buster Posey, he has been the teams best hitter by wOBA but has been one of the teams worst people at driving in runners. This to me seems like quite a bit of bad luck (I don't think think clutch is much of a repeatable skill and it would go totally against the narrative of BUSTER POSEY so I don't think anyone is going to suggest that) that will likely rebound as the season goes along.

Aubrey Huff and Angel Pagan haven't hit well this season and it is not a huge surprise that it has carried over into their at bats with runners in scoring position. They have a combined 39 opportunities and have driven in just 5 of those runners.

Overall I would say that the Giants struggles have been part luck and part a result of players not hitting well being the ones with high chances (115 opportunities with players under 100 wRC+ vs 109 for players above 100) to drive in runners. The first part should hopefully even out but the second part is harder to fix without being able to play better players (#FreeBelt).

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